I'd glad my input could be of use. Thanks for the feedback. You guys make some good points.
Maybe the AltGr key could be a dead key?
Sticky Keys adds this functionality. I'd been trying it out today and find it more comfortable so far. As a plus, holding it down to capitalize a string of letters still works this way.
AltGr could then even keep it's normal AltGr function when held down.
That's a clever alternative to further reduce pinky usage. Any idea on how we could make it work?
I think some of the "cons" you listed are not that significant
I'd agree that overall it's clearly an improvement, as long as you use a wide layout that isn't Dvorak. I just want to emphasize that it's a learning experience w
I was also using AutoHotkey though for extra layers, so maybe that explains it. Certainly AltGr+space etc can be made to work, it must just be a question of software/configuration.
Autohotkey would probably solve the issues I'm having.
Qwerty users: I don't know why you suggest it should only be used in conjunction with a new layout. To me it seems like of one those optimizations Qwerty users could make for a great benefit with very little cost.
I was targeting people on this board with that suggestion, who I assume are using an alternate layout or are planning to. This is like learning a new layout, and in my experiences it's difficult to be proficient with more than two layouts at a time. You mentioned this issue earlier:
"I have a keyboard that has a split space bar and I use the left half as a shift key and it works really well. The problem arises though when I'm not using my usual keyboard, e.g. when I'm on my laptop. Then I have to revert to the normal shift key, which is very unpleasant once you have gotten used to a thumb key."
QWERTY users can definitely benefit from this quality of life change, but it has a bigger learning curve than any comparable change (wide mod, backspace to caps lock, etc.).
using the shift keys as AltGr (i.e. a Shift-AltGr switch) is not bad for those who do actually want an AltGr layer as well. But this is bound to be a harder sell though.
If you are AltShifting with a wide layout mod on an ANSI keyboard (which we tend to use in America), you'll lose access to several symbol keys that would have been on your right. This is my resulting wide layout:
Same-hand AltShifting the parentheses is also uncomfortable. This is why I find "Shift-AltGr switch" an important compliment to AltShifting. But I'm probably biased by my custom layout. Without it, you could use the standard shift keys to do parenthesis and such, so it could be functional. You may shift the layout over one without making it wide to allow extra punctuation keys on the left pinky, as Colemak Mod-DH suggests:
If you use AltGr quite a lot already, I imagine swapping AltGr with Shift might be quite a hard step to take. I think this AltGr shift idea is best for people who don't actually use AltGr much currently - they have nothing to lose.
I didn't have any issues switching over. Relearning shift timing was far more jarring. I feel like you might as well learn both changes together, but I do agree it's not necessary now that I've thought it over. ISO keyboard users may have no issues, and shifting the home row right might fix things for ANSI users.
Eliminating the need to use the hard-to-reach number row is also great plus to me. Ideally I want to fit as much keyboard functionality near the home row as possible. It'd be nice to have an extra layer for navigation buttons. Fortunately, AltShifting opens up the left and right shift keys to be used for separate layers. I dream of comfortably using a keyboard as minimal as this one day: